We use smartphones to check email and Facebook, take pictures, surf the Web, play games and a whole lot more. But how do you choose the best smartphone for you? The iPhone continues to offer the most intuitive interface and tends to get the hottest apps first. Android smartphones, however, offer larger screens, more features and more customization options. Windows Phones are ideal great for both smartphone newbies and photographers (see Nokia's Lumia line).
At LAPTOP, we review dozens and dozens of smartphones per year based on design, features, performance and value to help you make the right choice. Here are the best smartphones for every major carrier and platform available today.
Find the Best Smartphone for You
By Mark Spoonauer, Editor-in-Chief — Last Updated: February 24, 2014
The ultimate phablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 boasts a bright full HD screen, superfast Snapdragon 800 processor and more than 11 hours of battery life. Samsung has also made lots of enhancements to its pen software, making it easier to take and share notes. Multitaskers will love the ability to not only run two apps side by side but drag content from one window to the other. You'll need two hands to handle this beast, but if you want a phone that can double as a tablet, the Note 3 is by far the best choice.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review
The iPhone 5S takes one of the best smartphones and gives it a serious dose of speed, thanks to Apple's new A7 chip and 64-bit architecture. We're talking double the overall performance and graphics power. Plus, the 5S offers a much improved camera with bigger pixels and a dual flash.
A new Touch ID feature lets you unlock your device and make purchases via a built-in fingerprint sensor. Add in a higher capacity battery and multiple color options (including space gray and gold ) and you have one heck of a sequel.
Apple iPhone 5s Review
Best Smartphone Deal: Motorola Moto X (All Major Carriers)
The Moto X is the world's first smartphone that you can design yourself online using a wide array of back colors and accent hues. Other highlights include advanced voice controls--think Siri without even having to touch the phone--and the ability to launch the 10-MP camera just by flicking the phone in your wrist twice. The Moto X also boasts a bright and colorful 4.7-inch display and fast performance. At less than $100 for all the major carriers, the Moto X is a great value.
Motorola Moto X Review
With a 5.1-inch 1080p display and a new soft-touch design, Samsung's Galaxy S5 retains everything we love about the S4 while adding some exciting new features. Samsung's slick new flagship now has a fingerprint reader for quick and secure logins, and the built-in heart rate sensor allows you to achieve the optimal workout using the included S Fitness app. Mobile photos will love the handset's stunning 16-MP rear camera, which is complemented by real-time HDR and a host of new photo features for customizing your shots.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 stuffs a plethora of innovative features into a lightweight design with a big and beautiful 5-inch display. The 13-MP camera is especially cool; it lets you erase would-be photobombers and shoot using the front and back cameras at the same time. You can also control the S4 using gestures, such as waving your hand in front of the screen to answer a call or flip through photos. Add in a powerful quad-core processor, easy access to settings and a built-in TV remote, and it's easy to see why the Galaxy S4 is one of the best smartphones.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Most people who see the HTC One for the first time say "Wow," and we don't blame them. This flagship Android device sports a gorgeous aluminum body and a very bright and sharp 4.7-inch, 1080p screen. The HTC One sounds as good as it looks, thanks to two front-facing speakers that produce loud and rich audio. A 1.7-GHz quad-core processor makes everything run smoothly, from the slick BlinkFeed interface for keeping up on your favorite topics to the built-in TV remote control. Plus, the Ultrapixel camera takes great photos in low light.
HTC One Review
Best Windows Phone: Nokia Lumia 1020 (AT&T)
Shutterbugs will love the Lumia 1020 from Nokia, an AT&T exclusive that packs a 41-megapixel sensor along with six Carl Zeiss lenses. The result is one of the best camera phones ever, complete with the ability to zoom in (or out) on your photos after they're taken. We also love the Pro Camera app, which lets you tweak exposure, focus and more via nifty slider controls. This is easily the best Windows Phone yet.
Nokia Lumia 1020 (AT&T) Review
The $349 Nexus 5 delivers cutting edge specs for a budget-friendly price for those looking to avoid contracts. The handset boasts a very fast Snapdragon 800 processor for running the latest Android 4.4 KitKat software. You also get a sharp 1080p display for enjoying the latest games and apps from the Google Play store. The Nexus 5 supports AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, so you can get 4G LTE speeds on any of those three carriers.
Google Nexus 5 Review
A bold departure from other smartphones, the LG G2 places its power button and volume controls in the back. But that's not what stands out most for us. This Android phone lasted a whopping 10 hours and 42 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test, which consists of 4G LTE surfing at 40 percent brightness. Other highlights include a super fast Snapdragon 800 processor, a sharp 13-MP camera with optical image stabilization and some pretty nifty multitasking features.
LG G2 (AT&T) Review
Snorkeling with a smartphone to snap pictures used to mean you needed a heavy-duty waterproof case. But Sony's Xperia Z1s needs no such protection. This fully waterproofed handset can snap photos with its 20.7-megapixel camera while fully submerged. Exclusive to T-Mobile, the Z1s' 5-inch 1920 x 1080-pixel display sits on top of a Snapdragon 800 CPU with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory. We love the Xperia Camera apps that come preloaded too. With the Timeshift Burst app, for instance, you can capture 61 images in 2 seconds and then scroll to the instant you want to keep. Best of all, this is the first Android phone iwth the PlayStation App pre-loaded to double as a remote control for the PS4.
Sony Xperia Z1s Hands-On